Client experience is what sets apart a great accounting firm from the sea of mediocrity. Since every firm provides basically the same services, the manner in which a firm delivers these can determine whether or not a client stays.
The market is continually changing; it is becoming more competitive. Client needs are evolving and this means accounting service providers need to strive to improve the services they offer. That way, they’ll be able to retain (and attract new) clients.
In one of the roadshows conducted in key cities across the country, Nick Sinclair, CEO of The Outsourced Accountant, shared his observation that one of the reasons why many clients outsource is because customer expectations are changing.
When these expectations are met, client satisfaction can boost a firm’s image. According to a study published in Taylor and Francis, meeting these expectations as well as prior services, quality of service, word-of-mouth referrals, and price are related to an accounting firm’s brand.
Clients want to achieve things quicker
In a fast-paced world, slow service can influence a client’s decision to stay with you. It is crucial that you’re able to deliver quick service with an uncompromised quality.
Gone are the days when clients are satisfied with mere compliance. They want more than just reporting. Aside from the traditional services provided by accounting firms, clients need financial advice and assistance that will drive their business to success.
Because of advanced technology bringing mobility and transparency, clients now expect team members to be available all the time paving the way for remote work. Accountants can now be anywhere other than the office and still do their job. However, with their new perception, clients expect you to perform more quickly. That’s because they can monitor your progress. They will know whether or not you were able to complete your deliverables by simply logging on to the system.
In one of our roadshows, Nick talked about how clients experience stucks and were unable to meet deadlines because the accountant is too buried in other tasks to do the work. This can be anything from answering emails, bookkeeping, or setting up and attending meetings. This is an obstacle offshoring can solve. Outsourcing low-impact work provides the solution to this.
Clients expect you to be more proactive
In one of his speeches, Nick raised concerns about accountants being reactive as opposed to being proactive with clients. Based on experience, he shared how some professionals refuse to take the initiative and reach out to their clients. Some accountants don’t do that because when they do, they most probably just receive more work.
It is important to be more proactive and communicate with clients because:
- It shows that you’re prioritising their needs.
- Clients will see that you’re actually doing your job without them having to tell you.
Clients expect regular communication. That’s why it’s important to ring your clients and ask how they’re doing. It’s a good practice to schedule regular check-in calls.
Clients also need you to provide proactive advice. With distributed workforces, firms should be able to get their workflow under control. Equally important is the knowledge that THERE ARE FIRMS OUT THERE that regularly pick up the phone and check in with their clients. If you’re not doing this and another firm delivers a higher level of service at the same cost, it’s more logical for your client to switch to the other one.
REMEMBER: Firms that are outsourcing are delivering a significantly higher level of contact with clients.
It’s easier to switch accountants if expectations are not met
Clients are moving to other accounting firms because their expectations are changing. Unlike before, when moving data is too daunting, technology has made it easier to transfer subscription to the new accountant or firm. Since data can be easily and securely stored in the cloud, clients can easily leave their accountants.
The inability to adapt to technology can also affect your firm’s image. Clients may question your firm’s ability to provide satisfactory service if they see that you’re stuck in the past with outdated practices and equipment. In this fast-paced world, systems that are four or five years old are considered ancient and may not help you to become efficient at what you do.
So embrace technology and adapt to changes. That way, you will be able to meet client demands.
Firms need to strategise and implement practices that will allow them to meet the client’s ever-changing expectations that come with changes in the accounting landscape.
This evolution was brought about by advancement in technology, globalisation, and Asian economic changes, among many others. Failure to do so may mean getting left behind by other firms that are more amenable to embracing change.
Accounting firms that embrace strategies to meet their clients’ demands are the ones that see more opportunities.
Offshore teams offer firms the opportunity to tap into the skills and expertise of professionals at a fraction of the cost of recruiting locally. Your firm stands a better chance at providing more value-added services by transferring process-driven tasks to an offshore team. Instead of being buried in time-consuming work, you can focus your time and energy in client-facing tasks.
Need more insights on how to adapt to the changing landscape to meet client expectations? Join us in our upcoming free-to-attend webinar – a discussion on the best insights from the TOA Roadshow 2017. Register here now.
You can also contact our local experts for a free consultation or call us today at 1300 896 522.